Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Twisted Raisin and Hazelnut Breadsticks

I had a reason for a small happy dance yesterday ;)

About five years ago was the last time I was on holiday in the Netherlands.

One thing I remember very distinctly apart from the beach, the wind and having a great time kite flying are Twisters. Twisters? Yes, Twisters.
You haven't heard of them? I have to change that!!! The probably most common supermarket in the Netherlands, AlbertHeijn, sells twisted bread with raisins and nuts in them and I absolutely loved them. You can see them here, but we always bought baked ones to eat right away and not frozen ones like on that website. Sadly, I couldn't find a recipe anywhere for how to make them :(

Two years ago I gave it a try, but wasn't completely happy with it and the procedure was a bit too complicated be justified by the outcome.

After my recent sourdough experiments I decided to give it another try. Also, with me starting my job soon (yay!), I remember that it has proven to sometimes be more practical to be able to just grab a twisted bread stick from the freezer in the morning than to cut the bread loaf and butter the slices and wrap them up.

And surprise, surprise, even though I made the recipe up completely by myself without any references...

... using this chaotic note, but I'm quite sure that doesn't help anyone ...
... they turned out really well! I am so happy about that!

I've had one test eater confirm that and my Mum baked the Twisters herself today and she agrees. As As apparently you say round here .... Happy Days ;)



Twisted Raisin and Hazelnut Breadsticks


Recipe by Ines Feucht



Prep time: 18 hours
Cook time: 3 hours
Total time: 21 hours
Yield: 6 bread sticks

Ingredients

  • 125 g wheat sourdough
  • 125 g rye flour
  • 125 g water

  • 300 g wheat flour
  • water
  • 1 tsp dried yeast (or 8 g fresh)
  • ½ tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 8 g salt
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup hazelnuts, chopped roughly
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1 tsp cookie and cake spice (nutmeg, clove and cinnamon - you can mix this yourself*)
  • flour for dusting

Instructions

  1. The afternoon/evening before (or 12 hours before you plan to bake) mix sourdough, rye flour and water in a bowl. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 12 hours.
  2. Dissolve yeast and the ½ tsp honey in some warm water (max. 100 ml).
  3. Add wheat flour to your sourdough mixture. Also sprinkle salt on so that it is evenly distributed. Add yeast-water-mixture, honey, raisins, nuts, cocoa powder and cake & cookie spice. Start kneading. Gradually, if needed, add more water. Knead until you have a soft pliable dough that is not overly sticky.
  4. Put back into the bowl and let rise in a warm (!) place (preferably on a radiator or a warm cherry stone pillow) for about two hours or until doubled in size.
  5. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper / foil or dust heavily with flour. Then knead the dough again and divide into 150 g pieces. This works better with wet hands.
  6. Have some flour ready and dust part of your work surface next to your kneading area. Roll the dough pieces into ropes of about 18 cm length. Then lay them one side down on the floured surface so that they have a lengthwise white stripe. Twist each one about three times and place on the baking sheet.
  7. Let the twisted bread sticks rise for half an hour in a warm (!) place. If necessary preheat your oven to 230°C (210°C if you have fan heat). During the last ten minutes place an oven-safe baking dish with a bit of water in the oven.
  8. Place the bread sticks in the oven and bake for 15 minutes at 230°C (210°C fan heat). Then turn down the heat to 210°C (190°C fan heat) and bake for another 10 minutes.
  9. Take the bread sticks out of the oven and let cool on a rack or freeze immediately in freezer bags. If you do that let them defrost in the bags and after a few hours re-crisp on a toaster rack.
* If you do mix the spice yourself grind approx. two small cloves, add a pinch of nutmeg and top up the the teaspoon with cinnamon. DO NOT use equal amounts of the spices! Too many cloves can be quite....strong ;)


my Mum's baking =)

Friday, 21 August 2015

Sourdough & Yeast Bread with Seeds

Yesterday morning, after non-stop rain on Wednesday, I think I could have give a home to some gold fish in my bike's panniers. That's the downside of having waterproof bags, you see .. the water usually keeps out, but if it gets in, it stays in there ;)

My panniers do have a hole...unintentionally...but it doesn't seem to help much in this case.
In any case it is always surprising how much less heavy my bike is without these panniers and the D-lock on it. 

Well, anyway ... I hadn't planned on having a free morning today, but since I now have one, I am tackling the following very urgent issue now:


Finally ... after moving this note from my desk to the kitchen, back to my desk, being carried around on my phone as a photograph when showing a friend how to make this bread  ... I am now putting it into proper writing for you!

Oh, hold on. Maybe you can just use the note? ;) No? Oh, okay then =P

I've made two versions of this bread now; one with seeds, as my Mum's original version was, and one with left-over red lentils and sunflower seeds. I can recommend both versions or simply using whatever you may have on hand.


Sourdough & Yeast Bread with Seeds


Recipe by Ines Feucht


Sourdough yeast bread with seeds, grains, or pulses. Wholegrain rye and wheat.

Prep time: 12 hours
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 18 hours
Yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients

  • 245 g rye flour
  • 280 g water
  • 50 g ready-to-use sourdough-starter (before feeding)

  • 120 g mixed seeds, soaked in
  • 105 g water OR
  • 1 cup cooked lentils/grains

  • 350 g wheat flour
  • 60 g rye flour
  • 16 g salt
  • 2 tsp dried yeast (or 10 g fresh)
  • honey
  • 50 g water

  • water
  • seeds or flour for decoration

Instructions

On the day before:
  1. Mix rye flour, water and sourdough in a bowl. Cover and place in a warm place overnight.
  2. Mix seeds of your choice with water and leave to soak OR make sure you have your grains/pulses cooked for the next day. You can also cook them on the next day, but since you wouldn't want them to be hot it is easier to have them ready. You can also add in grains/pulses and seeds.
On the baking day:
  1. Dissolve yeast and honey in lukewarm water.
  2. Mix wheat and rye flour with salt. Add to the dough you started the day before along with the yeast mixture and the seeds/grains/pulses.
  3. Knead until the dough comes together in a ball and keep on kneading for a bit until you have a soft and pliable dough. Knead into a ball, as described here in the kneading instructions and place back into your bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place for two hours.
  4. With wet hands remove from the bowl onto a wet surface. Divide into two equal parts and knead into loaves.
    • Either: Place on a baking sheet lined with non-stick backing foil or dusted with a very generous amount of flour. Wet the loaves thoroughly with your hands. Dust with flour.
    • Or: Wet the loaves thoroughly with your hands. Dip, upside-down into a plate full of seeds. Turn back around and place on a baking sheet lined with non-stick backing foil or dusted with a very generous amount of flour. 
  5. Let the loaves rise in a draught-free place for half an hour and pre-heat your oven to 260 °C. If using fan heat only use 240°C. After 20 minutes place an oven-proof dish filled with water in the oven to let steam develop.
  6. With a wet, sharp knife cut into the loaf to determine where it will break up. You can choose the pattern. I did a cross-wise grid sort of pattern, as I remembered too late that I used to make my Mum cut hearts into the surface ;)
  7. Bake for
    • 15 minutes at 260 °C / 240°C fan heat
    • 15 minutes at 220 °C / 200°C fan heat
    • 15 minutes at 190 °C / 170°C fan heat
  8. Remove from the oven and check if the loaves sound hollow when you knock on them to confirm that they are done. Let cool on a rack until completely cooled, then wrap in a dish towel and store in a paper bag at room temperature OR freeze immediately, when still hot, in a sealed freezer bag.
  9. Enjoy :-)


Friday, 7 August 2015

Swabian Farmers' Bread

Life has been weird this week ... our house has profited from that in any case, since my housemate and I had a home-improvement DIY day today!
We managed to put up the IKEA shelf we'd been meaning to put up since January and the whiteboard we'd meaning to put up since last year October. ... A small excuse is that we didn't have a drill until May =P Now we've made it and it is nearly straight. For that being the first things we ever hung ourselves that's pretty good, isn't it?
And, well, in fact it must be pretty straight, since the teapot on the shelf is not practising for winter skiing, but is staying in its place :)
Yes, the shelf is now the tea shelf and we were both quite amazed about it until our other housemates came back and told us it was exactly in the walking line and the corner of the shelf really dangerous ;)
So, I guess we'll hang something in neon colours on the edge, but it is not THAT dangerous.



And to keep you up to date in case one of you has started a sourdough here comes the recipe for the first mixed yeast & sourdough bread I made!



Swabian Farmers' Bread


Recipe by Ines Feucht




Swabian farmers' bread with sourdough and yeast.

Total time: 18 hours + sourdough
Yield: 1 bread

Ingredients

  • 160 g rye flour
  • 200 g water
  • 40 g sourdough

  • 160 g wheat flour
  • 140 g rye flour
  • 80 - 160 g water, lukewarm
  • 1 tsp dried yeast (or 8 g fresh)
  • ½ tsp honey
  • 10 g salt
  • bread spice (fennel seeds, coriander seeds, caraway seeds, anise seeds)
  • flour

Instructions

  1. Mix together the first three ingredients (rye flour, water and sourdough). Take the sourdough from your sourdough starter ready for use. Don't forget to feed the remaining starter. Let this sit, covered, in a warm place overnight or for about 8 hours.
  2. Grind up bread spice and mix with flour and salt. Add to the dough. Dissolve yeast and honey in a part oft the water. Add to the dough and start kneading. Add water as needed.
    • It is considerably easier to knead this with a kneading machine, since rye dough tends to be very sticky.
  3. Knead until the dough comes together. Cover and let rest in  a warm (!) place for half an hour. Don't hesitate to use a cherry stone pillow or some other gently warming device.

  1. Knead again and form into a dough ball (on a wet surface with wet hands, form into a ball by folding in the sides and rotating the ball of dough until the bottom side of the dough is smooth). Take a bowl and line with a dish towel. With a fine sieve dust the towel in the bowl generously with flour. Place the ball of dough in this bowl, the dough end facing up. With something pointed, such as knitting needles, poke the dough a couple of times. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat your oven to as high as it goes. Place an oven-save dish filled with water in the oven so that steam can develop.
  3. Generously dust a baking sheet with flour. You can also use a non-stick baking. In one swift movement turn out the bread on the sheet. Poke the bread again a couple of times. With a sharp knife slice the bread in a grid pattern. The cuts should be about 1 inch/ 1 ½ cm deep. Wet your hands and wet the bread. dust it with more flour.
  4. Place the bread in the oven. Bake, turning down the oven over time:
    • for 15 minutes at 260 °C (or as high as your oven goes) - this develops the crust
    • for 20 minutes at 220 °C and
    • for 15 minutes at 190 °C.
  5. Remove from the oven and check for doneness by knocking on the bottom of the bread. If it sounds hollow the bread is done.
  6. Let cool on a rack or freeze immediately.
    • Store, wrapped in a dish towel, in a paper bag at room temperature. OR
    • Freeze in a freezer bag, then defrost overnight at room temperature (within the bag) and, if you wish, reheat and crisp up briefly in the oven.


Friday, 31 July 2015

Homemade Sourdough

These past weeks I've done so much, and time seems to pass so fast.

Still, there was time for a trip each week and after the Isle of Wight, last week we went to explore the area around Chichester by bike. We stopped in West Wittering, which has the most impressive beach I've seen since the last holiday in the Netherlands, which was about four years ago.

West Wittering Beach


It was low tide when I took that photograph, but this    s p a c e  ... isn't it amazing :)
I just love the beaches and the waves. Oh, and if you happen to come to this area, do take the ferry from Bosham to Itchenor. It was the most amazing ferry I've ever been on! A three meter boat was totally not what I had expected xD

But now that's enough of impressions ;)

Exciting things have been going on in our kitchen this week! And no, this is not a joke! I was actually jumping around excitedly when my first ever half-sourdough-bread started to RISE in the oven. It had been a very dense ball of dough and it did in fact look less than promising, but it turned out just as if my Mum had made it =) And according to my housemate it looked as if was from the lovely Czech bakery we have in town.

...That's just to let you know what you can expect if you choose to take up the experiment challenge =P
If you want to jump around excitedly then give it a try!

But to start from the beginning: I finally started a sourdough about two weeks ago! Something I'd wanted to do for ages, waiting for the right time to come, which of course has never happened. ... So I just went for it.




Basic Sourdough


Recipe by Ines Feucht

top left: directly after mixing, bottom left: day 1, right: day 3

Prep time: 1 week

Ingredients

  • flour
  • water
  • 1 big glass jar
  • 1 cloth
  • 1 rubber band
You can use wholewheat flour or regular flour. Don't use any self-raising flour, though!


Instructions

  • Day 1: Start with ½ cup flour and and ½ cup lukewarm water. Place in the jar and mix well. Place cloth over the jar and secure with a rubber band. Place the jar in a dark, warmish place.
  • Day 2: After 24 hours add ½ cup flour and ½ cup lukewarm water. Mix and cover and return to the warm place.
  • Days 3 & 4: Each day empty the contents of the jar into a bowl. Clean the jar, since otherwise mold may develop if the sides of the jar are not clean, since you are keeping it in a warm place. Mix the starter in the bowl. Place ¼ cup of the starter back into the jar. Add ½ cup of flour and ½ cup lukewarm water and mix well. Cover and place back in the warmish place.

You can use the leftover starter in waffles or pancakes - I will post a recipe for you.

  • Day 5: Proceed as on days 3 and 4, but only add ¼ cup of flour and ¼ cup of water.


After this time you can use your starter as in any recipe it is asked for.

  • Feeding: For feeding keep ¼ cup of starter and add ½ cup of flour and ¼ cup water.
    • If you use it on a daily basis, proceed each day as on day 5.
    • If you use it on a weekly basis, proceed the same way once a week, keeping the starter in the fridge. In this case you can put a lid on your jar.


Minor deviations from your feeding schedule (missing one day or getting the time of the day wrong won't affect your sourdough, but make sure to maintain your overall pattern.

Note: After day three the sourdough became less bubbly and didn't seem as active anymore. I was a bit worried, but it doesn't seem to have done any harm. So if the same happens to yours, don't freak out and just keep on feeding it.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Spice Infused Sweet Potato & Green Lentil Stew

During the past two days I've read quite a few new things about website functionality.
My usual self-learning-by-doing enthusiasm has totally kicked in (jay!, I love just to forget time doing that - I really do!) and I have created a Pinterest account (--> see the button in the sidebar). Today I've pinned all my blog recipes onto a board and if you are a Pinterest enthusiast you can now follow me there and re-pin recipes.

Consequently I got tangled up in the jungle of articles on Rich Pins and rich snippets and have now decided to use this amazing website called RecipeSEO for marking up my future recipes so that all future content is indexed correctly.

Probably you are just here for the next recipe ... then you have to scroll down ;)
Otherwise you'll need to go on reading about my IT week =P

This sort of came up, as I was helping to design the website of the volunteer organisation I am involved in. I embedded a Google Map, trying to make it responsive and putting up a Facebook widget. All that on Wordpress, which I didn't have a clue about. Right now all of that is working, which is a great thing :)

I also made huge progress with the data problem my dissertation data had caused me, so now I am tackling the next riddle it is posing me.

But I haven't been doing this all week all day long ... ! Monday I had a friend over for dinner and made a Sweet-Potato-Lentil-Rhubarb Stew I had found on My New Roots. It was absolutely delicious and I can only recommend it!! Currently it is the only savoury rhubarb recipe that I know, but I would love to try some more. This was followed by some very chocolatey Chocolate Ice Cream, which is a regular at my Mum's table when guests are coming over.

Having dinner guests is something I really like, as I feel it makes it extra nice to make an effort and surprise someone with a lovely dinner... At least if we're talking of up to six people. I'd still need to practice cooking for more than that. My Mum and I only ever did that at a few rare Christmases and I remember it as being a sort of tricky thing. But that may have just been due to the fact that everyone seemed to have special food wishes ;)


I was having a hard time deciding which recipe to share first, but I am going for the sweet potato green lentil dish I made after a stunning and exhausting day on the Isle of Wight.

We had been cycling from Ryde to Shanklin, and passed some places with absolutely stunning waves, with a view of towering, high cliffs. I think at some point I was just looking at the waves for fifteen minutes, finding myself completely mesmerised. I could have stayed like that for hours and hours, just watching the force of the waves braking against the railings.
There are beaches with fine sand, lots of seashells and it was just, as I said, amazing. In favour of that my mind is completely blanking out the hills we cycled up and down ;)






Spice Infused Sweet Potato & Green Lentil Stew


Recipe by Ines Feucht



Total time: 45 minutes
Yield: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sweet potato, in 1cm cubes
  • green pepper, in 1 cm squares
  • 3 large spring onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 onion, diced finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced finely
  • size of half a finger piece of ginger, diced finely
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds or mustard seeds
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ground coriander
  • chili flakes
  • green lentils
  • hot water
  • 1 - 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp honey
  • salt
  • pepper
  • rice

Instructions

  1. Prepare vegetables and set the rice (or whatever side you like) to cook.
  2. Heat olive oil over low to medium heat in a large pan (something that has a lid in any case). Drop in a few poppy seeds so that you can see when the oil is hot, which is when they start to sizzle. Add remaining poppy seeds, star anise, cumin, coriander and chili to the pan. Stir to coat and let sizzle on low to medium heat for a few minutes until they have a fragrant smell.
  3. Add onion and sauté for a few minutes until softened.
  4. Add garlic and ginger. Sauté for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add sweet potato, spring onion and green pepper. Fry on medium heat for a few minutes until they have started to soften and do not look completely raw anymore.
  6. Add lentils, water (start with less, you can always add more) and soy sauce. Stir. Put on the lid, bring to a simmer and let simmer, covered on low to medium heat for 20-30 minutes until the lentils are soft. Check if water is needed from time to time.
  7. Season with honey, salt and pepper and, if necessary, soy sauce.
Serve on rice, drizzle with parsley and lemon oil.



Parsley & Lemon Oil


Recipe by Ines Feucht

Total time: 5 minutes
Yield: for 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • honey
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Mix all the ingredients and adjust seasoning as desired. I recommend blending this up in a blender (if it can do very small amounts).

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Thyme & Sesame Bagels

Happy Sunday! I know that, at least if you are in Portsmouth, this may not be the loveliest of days, but it is exactly the right day to read this and think about freshly baked goods ;)

I've got some more novelties lined up for you. Okay, maybe just one, but let's start with the the more important things, such as food, first!

This week I've tried so many new recipes and taken lots of Instagram photos that last night that I couldn't remember when the last time had been that I had had pasta. So, with the surprise bag of ingredients that a friend of mine had brought from the shop I made us some stir fried sweet potato, thyme-mushrooms and bok choi with lemon, soy sauce and lightly fried spaghetti. We loved the result and it was exactly the right thing for the day. For some reason, pasta is a food I often turn to when I feel like I need something that is definitely going to work and is sort of comforting, that is exactly the right thing after a long day and a busy week.

I think that today I may have finally gotten one step further on my dissertation work, so I deserve some time off for posting after spending lots of time on it during the week ;)

Well, I have to admit that I had a day off going on a trip to London. On that day there was a tube strike, so it was crazily busy and it was amazing to be back here in the evening with nobody out on the streets and  . . .  the silence!
It is a great place to visit and we had a great time seeing the ICA and wandering around in Tate Modern, but one day in the city centre is definitely enough for me. I think this time my art interpretation skills were not spot-on, but amazingly there was one, a video of a cube of sugar cubes being drizzled with crude oil, where we actually agreed on what we thought it was supposed to mean. Probably that was completely different from the artist's intention, but let's not be too critical ;)

In galleries I always find it amazing how people have such different opinions about artworks and I like the thinking that in art usually you won't be right or wrong.

These bagels are something that is right, though ;)
It was an experiment, so I noted down some things I would change the next time I am making them, but am sharing these notes with you!






Thyme & Sesame Bagels

Inspiration from these Whole Wheat Za'atar Bagels

Time: 10 minutes + 1 hour rising + 10 minutes + 2 hours rising + 30 minutes + 20 minutes baking


for 7 bagels
550 g wholewheat flour
1/2 tsp dried yeast
1/2 tsp honey
100 g luke warm water
2 tsp salt
3 tsp cornflour-locust bean gum mixture (or 1 egg) *
60 g water
water
3 tbsp sesame seeds
1 handful fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp organo, dried
3 tbsp honey
2 l water
coarse salt
sesame seeds

  • For detailed yeast dough-instructions, see here.
  • Start the dough by dissolving yeast and honey in 100g of water and pouring into a well in the middle of the flour. Let rise, covered in a warm place until the dough has visibly started to rise.
  • Add salt, egg/fake egg*, sesame seeds, thyme, oregano and, gradually, water. Knead into a smooth, soft, non-sticky dough. Let rise until the volume has doubled.
  • Set 2 litres of water to boil in a wide pot. Preheat your oven to 230°C (upper-/lower-heat). Use 20°C less if using fan heat.
  • Divide the dough into 7 pieces of equal size (they will weigh about 120 g). Form each piece into a small roll. Keep water at hand. Wet your index fingers. Poke one index finger from the top through the roll, lift up and poke the other finger through from the bottom. Making rotating movements with both hands, stretch the hole with your fingers until it is about 6cm in diameter. Place formed bagels on a non-stick baking sheet.
  • When the water is boiling, stir in the honey and lower heat to a slight simmer.
  • Have a soup plate with sesame seeds on hand.
  • To boil the bagels (first try with a single one and then you may be able to do two at a time):
    • Gently drop bagel into the water. Using a slotted spoon, nudge it from time to time to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.
    • After some time the bagel will rise to the surface. When it does, after 15 seconds, flip it over and boil for another 20 seconds (approximately).
    • Lift it out with the slotted spoon and place in the soup plate with the sesame seeds. Flip.
    • Return to the baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle with a little bit of coarse salt.
  • After boiling all bagels, bake for 10 minutes, flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes.
  • Leave to cool on a rack and enjoy immediately. If eating them after a few hours I recommend re-heating them on a toaster as it crisps them up very nicely.
  • If you want to freeze them, freeze immediately. Let defrost in a plastic bag later and place on a toaster to crisp up when defrosted.

*Video: see explanation below

*Cornflour-Locust Bean Gum Egg:

Mix 300 g fine whole cornflour with 30 g locus bean gum. You can buy locust bean gum in health food stores or organic shops. Make sure there are no clumps. You can use a sieve for this. Keep in an airtight jar. To substitute 1 egg, use 2 tsp of the mixture and mix with 40g water.



And now the exciting news ;)
I did a video of me making these bagels, so have a look (on YouTube itself the quality is a bit better)!



I hope it is useful! I apologise for it not being super professional and me walking in and out of the picture, but as I will never have a perfect first video I thought I might as well get started with this one.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Swabian Hearty Bread Rolls

I have had a very productive and busy day today so far! Besides baking these delicious rolls I spent some time on my job search. So keep your fingers crossed for me that one day I'll be successful ;-) But I guess, as the saying goes, persistence is the key to success ;-) Sometimes, that is...if you don't make the same mistake all over again all the time. After that I indulged in my weekly cleaning project =P and in between ...

... I made these delicious rolls! So here we go in case I have confused you earlier on.

Usually I make a batch and freeze it so that I can take some out each day for lunch without any hassle ... I just love home-baked bread! I have had some conversations about my seemingly snack-like lunch...but, honestly, real, crunchy, hearty bread is so much more than a snack!!!

Bread rolls also remind me of weekends when I was a child. During the week we'd have bread, but on weekends it would be bread rolls. That was before the time when my Mum started baking, so I was a very small child then ;-)

My Dad drove to the bakery in the next village each Saturday and Sunday morning, since that used to be the one where they'd still make the bread themselves from scratch. They used to have different breads and rolls on different days of the week, since, when you actually make things from scratch, you cannot make 30 kinds of bread each day.

That reminds me... ! Have you ever seen Laugenbrot (= pretzel bread)? Actually, myself, I have only ever seen it in this specific bakery. Laugenbrötchen (= lye rolls), Laugenbrezeln (= pretzels) or Laugenstangen (= pretzel breadstick) are very common and available everywhere, but Laugenbrot doesn't seem to be. I loved to pluck it apart, as, since it was braided, like a Hefezopf bread (= braided sweet yeast bread), it was possible to divide into pieces in the places where the different strands met. I love thinking back to all the amazing things they used to bake....but let's get back:

The bread rolls: In the morning we'd have rolls with butter, jam, chocolate spread, honey or Eszet-Schnitten.
Eszet-Schnitten are very thin chocolate slices, available in different degrees of darkness, that you lay on your bread. I don't eat them anymore these days, but putting them on freshly toasted toast (on weekdays) was so much fun! They'd melt and go all gooey and, well ... CHOCOLATE! =)

The following recipe is similar to the Potato Bread one, but slightly heartier. Since it doesn't contain milk you only need items that you may have in your pantry anyway and if you'd been using nut milk it saves you that one step of making it.



Swabian Bread Rolls

recipe inspired by a recipe by Adelinde Häußler

Time: 30 minutes + 1 hours rising + 15 minutes + 3 hours rising + 15 minutes + 35 minutes resting & baking = 5 h 35 min (not all working time!)


for 7 rolls
100 g water, lukewarm
2 g or ½ tsp dried yeast (or twice the amount fresh yeast)
½ tsp honey
450 g whole wheat flour
50 g whole rye flour
½ tsp bread spice (usually a mixture of fennel, coriander and caraway seeds)
125 g potatoes
12 g salt
¼ tsp nutmeg, ground
½ tbsp red wine vinegar

  • Dissolve yeast and honey in water. Grind up the bread spice in a mortar or with a blender. Place flour and bread spice in a large bowl and mix well. Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the water-yeast-mixture. Mix with some flour from the sides of the well until you achieve a mud-like consistency. Sprinkle with some flour from the sides and cover with a lid, plate or cling film. Let rest in a warm place for an hour

  • In the meantime: Cut the potatoes in small pieces (1.5 cm size) and steam until very soft. For this place them in a metal colander or a steaming basket. Take a pot of a suitable size for the colander and add about 3 cm of water. Place the colander in the pot and cover with a lid. Bring to the boil and let cook in the steam for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are very soft. Keep the water.
  • Mash the potatoes and add some of the cooking water as you go to achieve a creamy consistency. (I use a potato masher and do this in the pot I cooked the potatoes in, since you need something with an even bottom surface).

  • When the yeast has visibly started to rise, add the mashed potatoes, nutmeg and vinegar. Also add the salt, but don't pour directly on the yeast, as direct contact causes some of the yeast-cells to die. Add a slight bit water. Knead until everything starts to come together and add more water as necessary.
  • When you have reached that consistency take the dough from the bowl and form into a ball by folding in the sides and rotating the ball of dough until the bottom side of the dough is smooth. Turn over and return to the bowl. Cover the bowl and return to the warm place. Let the dough rise until it has at least doubled in size. This may again take about 2-5 hours, depending on the temperature and the amount of yeast.

  • Pre-heat your oven if necessary. You'll want 210°C. Use upper and lower heat. If you have fan heat turn to only 190°C. Place a casserole dish with a bit of water in the oven to let steam develop.
  • Keep a bowl of water at hand. Wet the surface you'll be kneading on. Remove the dough from the bowl and put onto your surface. Divide into 120 g pieces and evenly divide up any leftover dough. I had seven rolls.
    • Form rolls: Using the same technique as for the whole of the dough before, do this with the first roll. Then, place, open side down, on the surface and move your hand in circular movements, as if you were rolling a ball in circles over the table. This will make the rolls more ball like, as opposed to the flatter shape they may have had before. Don't worry though if it doesn't entirely work, it is all a matter of practice and your rolls will turn out fine no matter what!
  • Repeat with all rolls and place open side down on a flour-covered baking sheet. You can also use a non-stick baking sheet. Wet all the rolls with water.
  • Let them rest for 10 minutes in a draught-free-place. Bake for 25 minutes. To test for done-ness, tap the bottom of a roll with your finger. It should sound hollow.

  • Let the rolls cool on a rack and eat immediately or place into freezer bags immediately after baking and freeze. If you do this take them out a couple of hours before you want to eat them, keep in the freezer bag and the re-heat on top of a toaster-oven.

You can turn this into a bread by baking it according to the instructions in the Potato Bread recipe.





PS: Don't forget you can now follow me on Instagram! The link is on the right side in the sidebar.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Crazy Dried Mushroom Noodles

Actually, I have this other post nearly finished with the recipe written out and only the photographs and some editing missing, but I haven't been feeling like finishing it in the past few days.

Instead, I have been wanting to tell you about a crazy soup experiment my housemate and I started last week.

At the university, where he was working, they had been collecting left over food at term end when all the students moved back home. Most of the food was donated to charity, but he brought home this set of dried Chinese soup ingredients ... and well, neither he, nor I had ever made Chinese soup like that. For us, not being familiar with the ingredients, the whole package looked slightly suspicious. Since the thing was quite voluminous though, taking up lots of space, my housemate "assigned" me the task to find out what to do with the kit.
So, by the next day I had googled some recipes and had a rough idea. The whole thing looked a bit like this, but unfortunately I forgot to take a photograph. Some more googling revealed that in fact only one of the packages contained mushrooms, the mushrooms having been monkey head mushrooms. The other sachets contained medicinal roots, goji berries, a special variety of dates and some dried sea snail.

I ended up deciding to soak everything that was not sweet and not a snail in water, which was to be the base for our soup. Since it was not to be a creamy soup we agreed on adding buckwheat noodles and this was essentially the crucial point for making the recipe a success.

We cooked the noodles in the soup and the whole dish turned into noodles, since all the soup was soaked up. This was what made it so good. Both my housemate and I agreed that it was absolutely delicious and that we had to try and re-create this dish! Which is what we did yesterday for a friend's birthday dinner.


You may have seen the photograph that I posted on Instagram (to go there see link in the sidebar). Again, you are invited to follow me there. I may not manage to write posts that frequently, but I always do cook and I post photographs, which hopefully inspire you to try some new things!

... And if there's anything you are really curious about, just ask me for the recipe. I am always more than happy to help anyone who is willing to actually try to do some cooking!

In general I hadn't thought I'd like the concept of taking pictures and posting them with very little text, since a lot is down to appearance.
I have to admit though, that I really enjoy posting on Instagram, as it motivates me not to cook the same thing three days in a row even when no one is there to have dinner with me and to still make it look nice even if it is just for me :-)

So back to the noodles!





Crazy Dried Mushroom Noodles

Time: 30 minutes + soaking time 6-12 hours


for 2 people
50-60 g dried mushrooms*
2 servings (170 g) soba noodles**
2 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot
3 large chard leaves
4 spring onions, divided
¾ tsp tamarind
1-2 tbsp soy sauce

salt
pepper

  • In the morning soak your mushrooms in 1 litre cold water. Place a glass or another item that is smaller than your soaking jar on to top of the mushrooms so that they actually stay submerged. Soak for 6-12 hours.
  • Drain the soaking water through a sieve into a medium sized pot. Squeeze the mushrooms as well as possible without squashing them completely. Start heating the liquid to bring it to a boil.
  • Cut the carrot in very thin 4 cm long sticks, cut the chard leaves into ribbons and thinly slice the spring onions. Keep the vegetables separate. Set ¼th of the spring onion aside for decoration. Slice the mushrooms into thin slices
  • Heat the oil in a mini wok or frying pan. Over medium high heat fry the remaining spring onion and carrot until slightly browned and soft. Add chard and fry until wilted. Add soy sauce, salt (depending on the saltiness of the soy sauce) and pepper.
  • By now the stock should be boiling. Add the mushrooms, the tamarind and ⅓ tsp salt and boil for 5 minutes. Then add vegetables with the juices and the soba noodles to the stock. Cook for about 5 minutes until the noodles are soft. Stir often so they don't stick together. Add water if necessary.
  • Season with soy sauce, salt and pepper to your liking.
  • Serve in small bowls with crunchy spring onion sprinkled on top.

*Dried mushrooms: The first time we had monkey head mushrooms, together with some medicinal roots, which was fine. In that case remove the medicinal roots after soaking, since they stay quite hard. The second time we used dried shiitake mushrooms, which had much more flavour so I'd rather use these in the future. You can experiment with what you find, though.

** Soba noodles: We used these the first time, which thickened the remaining liquid's consistency very nicely. Also the noodles are flat, like linguine, which I liked. The second time we used these, which I think are probably more authentic, but didn't quite thicken the liquid as well. These are very thin round noodles. We preferred the more hearty noodles, but feel free to play around with the noodles you have or find and to find the ones you like best.

As always I'd happy to hear if you've tried this and how you liked it!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Everyday Fruit and Oats Breakfast Bowl

Hi there!

... Do you remember me? I know it's been a while and I do hope that I am still there, somewhere at the back of your mind ;-)
I had been thinking that after the exams things would get more relaxed, but that hasn't happened. So I figured I should better stop waiting for things to get less busy.

What I am sharing with you today is something really, really easy. There's no heat required and you can't do anything wrong! Here comes: My everyday breakfast.

I guess I've had some variation of this every morning for the past nine years. ( I can hear you thinking here I think..."What??? Is she crazy?") The recipe has changed over time and with that my liking for this breakfast has increased. When I was a child my Mum had learned in her course that you had to eat 60 grams of raw cereal grains each day in order to get your vital supply of vitamin B1. The first recipe was different from what mine now is and I have to admit that I was not particularly happy about this new mindset. Not at all...

For the first recipe I remember us being in the kitchen trying to shred apple on a circular travel-size citrus peel grater. The apple was getting brown and doing this with 300 grams of apple was no fun. There was also some cream in the base, no orange and the consistency was quite heavy. ... Well, don't worry about that...none of this applies to my today's version anymore and these days I love my breakfast. I am looking forward to it every day and I would get seriously confused if there was a day without one.

My Mum's version today still is different from mine, but also very different from the old recipe. Nevertheless I like mine better and she likes hers better. I should get the second recipe from her some time so you can decide for yourself. Unfortunately I don't really know what she's doing differently from me so she'd need to write that down ;-)

Anyway, let's get started before you all go back to sleep again!




Everyday Fruit and Oats Breakfast Bowl

Time: about 20-30 minutes


for 1 person
60 g rolled oats or other rolled grains
1 tbsp flaxseed
40 g water
50 g orange
80 g banana
more water
100 g apple
fruit
nuts
seeds

  1. Put the rolled oats in your breakfast bowl. Grind up the flaxseed into a fine meal. Add the water and stir to combine.
  2. Place orange and banana into a blender with approximately 20 g of water and blend up until liquid. You can also place the fruit in a cup and use a stick blender. Add the banana-orange liquid to the oats. Stir to combine.
  3. Slice the apple into sticks. I do this by halving the apple, cutting it into slices one way and the cutting the slices in sticks by slicing crosswise the other way. Add to your bowl. Stir to combine and add a bit more water so that your mixture isn't too dense.
  4. Top with fruit. I like to use any leftover banana, which I put on top in slices and then lots of seasonal fruit.
  5. Then sprinkle with seeds. I like to use 1 tsp of each sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  6. Add nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, pecan nuts, walnuts or brazil nuts. I usually use all of these and add some coconut flakes. But feel free to adjust in whatever way you wish.



Some more important notes - not for the taste, but for nutritional reasons, so I feel I am responsible to let you know ;-)

  • Cereal Flakes: To get the intended nutritional benefit the grains should be raw, i.e. not heated in any way, which is often done for preservative reasons, especially when the grains are rolled. Ideally, you buy whole grains, which you roll yourself with a device like in this video. Even more ideally, you test if the grains really are raw by trying to sprout them. 
  • Flaxseed: Flaxseed should be ground because otherwise your body won't be able to absorb the nutrients in the seeds. They won't really be digested and ... well, they will look the same after you've eaten them as before you've eaten them. This is because the seeds want to stay whole so that if a bird was to eat them and drop them somewhere else they'd still be able to grow. If you buy them pre-ground, though, they will have lost lots of their nutrients due to the open exposure to the oxygen.
Still, even if you don't do this, the breakfast is very healthy and, most importantly, delicious! So don't let this hold you back!

That's it. Happy breakfast :-) Let me know if you like it!



And I nearly forgot something important! Thanks to my Czech friend Damm, who I was talking to this week, I finally got myself 'round to having a look into how Instagram works and opening an account.

I hope that even if I don't feel like I've enough energy for writing sometimes, I can still take some photographs and give you some inspiration from time to time! So please feel free to follow me there (a link is on the right side of the blog in the sidebar) and I promise I'll soon have figured out the details of how it all works soon! ;-)

Friday, 22 May 2015

Chili with Red Wine, Cocoa and Coffee

Hi there!

I had my last lectures before Easter and now only two exams are left and a dissertation to write over summer.
At the beginning it was weird, but now I am enjoying being able to work from home, since that way I can do things where I have to pop into the kitchen every few hours. Plus I can have for lunch whatever I want to have without it having to be portable or easy to prepare!

During this past week I've been having different red and green smoothies (not as creepy as it sounds!) followed by bread rolls made from my Crusty Potato Bread dough* with butter and Orange Jam.

*For making rolls, instead of shaping bread loaves, divide the dough into 6 pieces per loaf, form into rolls (like small bread loaves). Proceed as with bread. Bake at only 220°C for 21 minutes. 

My smoothie week mainly originated from me having bought a bunch of beetroots last Friday and having the stems leftover from that. They looked far to nice to throw them out so I made smoothies with them, including banana, orange and some other things, which turned out surprisingly nice!
I hadn't been looking up recipes and just threw in random leftovers. And ... well, since I am not the most experienced smoothie person sometimes these creations turn out pretty weird I have to admit.
But I think I might stay hooked onto my smoothie-part of lunch for a little while longer. Usually I just have carrot and apple with my baked goodies or carrot and apple salad.
...A difference between carrot and apple and carrot-apple-salad? Uh, yes...there is a small difference even if it might not be apparent at first sight. Believe it or not ;-)



Here in England, we still have days where it's drizzling - or pouring - outside. Then it feels chilly inside to me if there hasn't been any sun all day to warm up the house.

On days like that I tend to make the dish, which this post is about:
A chili with red wine, cocoa powder and a dash of coffee.

Sounds unhealthy? Three vices combined in one dish? Red wine, chocolate and coffee?
Well, it is not as bad as it sounds - in fact I would still think it is quite healthy ;-)
... After all the alcohol evaporates, the cocoa powder only has the good parts of the chocolate without all the sugary stuff in it and there's only a spice-sized amount of coffee.
Sooooo... I hope I have convinced you!!!



My housemate claims that this is one of her favourite dishes out of those I've made for her so far, so I hope that you might like it as well :-)


Chili with Red Wine, Cocoa and Coffee

Time:
approx. 40 minutes without considering the beans
+ 20 - 50 minutes for cooking the beans if using dried ones
+ 6 hours for soaking of the beans (if using dried beans)

This recipe is an adapted version of this Bean Chili with Walnuts & Chocolate by Green Kitchen Stories.


for 2 4 6 people (without rice)
2/3 cup 1 1/3 cups 2 cups uncooked, dried beans (any dark colour)
½ cup 1 cup 1 ½ cups cooking water from the beans
1 tbsp 2 tbsp 2 tbsp olive oil
½ 1 1 ½ onion(s)
1 2 3 garlic clove(s)
½ tsp 1 tsp 1 ½ tsp cumin, whole seeds
¼ tsp ½ tsp ¾ tsp chili flakes, to taste
½ tsp 1 tsp 1 ½ tsp paprika powder
½ tsp 1 tsp 1 ½ tsp oregano, dried
1 2 3 carrots/parsnips/medium sized potatoes
1 2 3 celery stalks
1*400g tin 2*400g tin 3*400g tin cubed tomatoes
¼ - ½ tsp ½ - 1 tsp ¾ - 1 ½ tsp salt
¼ cup (+) ½ cup (+) ¾ cup (+) red wine
¼ - ½ tsp ½ - 1 tsp ¾ - 1 ½ tsp coffee powder, ground (instant granules or normal)
1 tbsp 2 tbsp 3 tbsp cocoa powder


  • If you are using dried beans, like I did:
    • Soak the beans in plenty of water for about 6 hours. Then drain, rinse, cover with a lot of fresh water and cook. Do this either in a pressure cooker (for 16-18 minutes on the highest setting) or in a normal pot (for about 40 minutes). Do not add salt, as otherwise the beans will not soften. When straining after cooking keep some of the water.
    • You can do this while you prepare the remaining ingredients and start cooking.
  • You can also use canned beans. Then you should have about three times the volume of beans, since they triple in volume when being cooked. Strain and rinse and use fresh water instead of bean cooking water.
  • Finely chop onion and garlic.
  • Cut carrot/parsnip/potato into 1cm cubes. Cut the celery into pieces of about ½ cm in size.
  • Heat olive oil in a large pot. Sauté onion and garlic, as well as the spices, on low heat for about 5 minutes or until the onion has softened. Stir often.
  • Add the remaining cut-up vegetables and cook for another 10 minutes until these have softened slightly. Stir often.
  • Add cooked beans, tomatoes, (bean cooking) water and salt. Bring to a simmer and let cook on low heat for 25-30 minutes with the lid on. Stir from time to time.
  • Add red wine, coffee and cocoa powder. Let simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
Serve. For decoration you can use parsley or coriander leaves if you wish.

You could combine this dish with rice or bread, but having it on its own is delicious as well!

** In my photograph I used light-coloured beans, but I'd recommend dark-coloured beans, since they look much nicer in here!
*** Feel free to use other vegetables, such as butternut squash or sweet potato as well.

As always, I would love to hear if anyone has tried this :-)

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Sauce Bolognese

Did you think: "Huh? Has she abandoned being vegetarian?" upon reading the title?
Well, in case you did, no I haven't ;)

In fact, in our family there was a long pause from Sauce Bolognese that lasted for about ten years ever since my Mum started cooking vegetarian food.
This was one of the few things that I was sad about back then, since Sauce Bolognese, Lasagna Bolognese, Goulash and Schinkennudeln (= ham noodles) were, I think, the only meat-containing things that I ever truly liked. Well...liked. In that case...I loved them!

My Mum used to make large - and when I say large I mean large, such as two giant pressure cookers full - batches of sauce Bolognese for freezing, which was an afternoon filling task. I remember I used to leave the door of my room open when she did that, just because I loved the smell. And this has to say something since, as a kid, there were things upon smelling which I would hide in my room for a day. Probably that was a bit crazy, but well...


The original recipe is from a small cookbook on Italian cooking, which gives the most amazing Bolognese. It needs to cook for several hours, but the time is so worth it!


Then, two years ago, my Mum and I decided that we absolutely needed to try to make a vegetarian version of this sauce. So we tried and tested lots of recipes, but never got anywhere near the one we used to have. Usually it tasted more like a hash sauce than Bolognese.
And then, at some point, we thought we'd just forget about all the recipes and try and make the old recipe, changing minced meat for cooked green spelt.
It needed two tries and a bit of tweaking at the following tries, but by now the new vegetarian version is 95% close to the old version and tastes absolutely lovely, even if it is not 100% the same! But it can't be, since it is something different.


We've used the sauce in lasagna as well and it makes deliciously amazing lasagna!
I can only recommend this to you and I can promise that it does not taste like hash sauce, but like Bolognese! (Very important!) And it does live up to the original version!



Sauce Bolognese

Time: about an hour

for 4-6 servings
75 g green spelt, cracked
150 ml + red wine
50 g butter
180 g onions, chopped
200 g carrots, chopped
90 g celery, chopped
30 g dried tomatoes, in stripes
(only dried, no oil)
800 g
= 2 tins
chopped tinned tomatoes
200 ml vegetable stock
pepper
salt
120 ml cashew milk (using about 15- 20 g cashew nuts)


  • In a small pot combine cracked green spelt and red wine. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, on low for about ten minutes until the grains are soft. Add a bit of water if the wine evaporates too quickly. Switch off.
  • Melt butter in a medium to large pot, add the chopped vegetables and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes until softened.
    • When I make a large batch I chop vegetables using a food processor. For small batches I chop them by hand.
  • Add the green spelt and red wine mixture. Then add dried tomatoes, tinned tomatoes and vegetable stock.
  • Bring to a low boil and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
  • Add the cashew milk and season with salt and pepper. Add more red wine if you think it tastes too much like tomato sauce. Leave to cook for another ten minutes.

Serve over spaghetti or other pasta or use for making lasagna.

The longer you cook the sauce, the better it tends to get.
The sauce freezes well and reheating (and thus cooking again) only enhances the flavour.